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Lori Loughlin’s attorneys argue feds are concealing evidence in college admissions scandal

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BOSTON — Attorneys for actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Giannulli say the Justice Department has refused to turn over critical evidence in the nation’s college admissions case and have asked a judge to intervene to force federal prosecutors to hand it over.

The celebrity couple’s attorneys filed a motion Friday seeking the government to produce the material, arguing it should be included as exculpatory evidence.

Both have pleaded not guilty to federal charges for paying $500,000 to Rick Singer, the mastermind of a sprawling college admissions cheating and bribery scheme, to get their daughters tagged as crew recruits to slip them into the University of Southern California. They’re preparing for trial next year.

The couple’s legal team asked for “all information” concerning Singer’s representations to his clients regarding payments to USC as well as information about “USC’s knowledge of Singer’s operation.” In particular, they singled out Federal Bureau of Investigation reports, known as “302 reports,” that detail statements and interview notes taken during the college admissions investigation.

More: ‘Legitimate donations’: Lori Loughlin attorney previews college admissions defense in court

Attorneys, led by Sean Berkowitz, say the documents would prove the central argument of Loughlin, Giannulli and other parents charged in the “Varsity Blues” case who have maintained their innocence — that they made “legitimate donations” to a nonprofit led by Singer, not bribes. 

“The Government’s theory in this case is that Giannulli and Loughlin knowingly bribed a rogue USC administrator in order to secure their daughters’ admission to the university,” the new motion reads. “But the Government appears to be concealing exculpatory evidence that helps show that both Defendants believed all of the payments they made would go to USC itself — for legitimate, university-approved purposes — or to other legitimate charitable causes. 

“The Government’s failure to disclose this information is unacceptable, and this Court should put a stop to it.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment. A spokesperson from USC, Leigh Hopper, did not immediately comment on the filing. Attorneys for other parents in the admissions scandal have been denied similar requests for the same documents.

Loughlin and Giannulli are among 36 parents accused of paying into a vast criminal network led by Singer, a college admissions consultant from California, who took payments in exchange for either tagging their children as fake athletic recruits to get them admitted into elite colleges or fixing their college entrance exam scores. A newly charged parent agreed this week to plead guilty to paying Singer to have someone take online college courses for her son. Singer has pleaded guilty and cooperated with authorities. 

Loughlin and Giannulli are charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, honest services fraud, money laundering and federal programs bribery, which was tacked on in October to parents who declined plea deals offered by prosecutors.

More: College admissions scandal tracker: Who’s pleaded guilty, who’s gone to prison — and who’s still fighting

The couple’s attorneys argue the Justice Department must prove Loughlin and Giannulli “intended” to defraud USC and that they “knew” their donations to Singer’s nonprofit, the Key Worldwide Foundation, would be used to bribe a USC official, former senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel.

“At trial, Giannulli and Loughlin will help establish their innocence by showing that they understood both sets of payments to be legitimate donations and did not understand or intend that either set of payments would be used to directly or indirectly bribe Heinel,” their motion reads. 

The government has argued that payments from wealthy parents to Singer produced a classic quid pro quo, with the payments serving as bribes to get their children into elite universities.

To counter, the couple’s attorneys say they need “any statements by Singer as to what he precisely told his clients” about the use of their funds. They also say they need statements detailing what USC knew of Singer’s operation, arguing that if they did know about the operation but accepted money anyway then the university was not bribed or defrauded. 

More: College admissions scandal: Parents say payments to ringleader weren’t bribes

Attorneys for Robert Zangrillo, another parent accused of making bribes to USC, in September released emails from USC that showed the university maintained a spreadsheet that classified some applicants as “VIP” because their families made major donations to the school, were friends or had other connections.

Zangrillo’s defense team said it showed a “university-wide program at USC” where past and future donations affected a student’s admissions, meaning Zangrillo’s payment of $50,000 to USC was a gift, not a bribe. 

Prosecutors have turned over more than 3 million pages of emails, wiretaps and other evidence to defense attorneys in the admissions case. But at a court hearing in June, defense attorneys flagged how the government had not released FBI interviews with parents not charged in the case.

These uncharged parents told the FBI that Singer said their donations would go to athletic programs or schools, not bribes, the defense attorneys said.

Federal Magistrate Page Kelley denied the defense’s request to certify the documents as exculpatory evidence. 

Loughlin and Giannulli’s new court filing includes letters this past summer between their attorneys, continuing to press for the documents, and U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Andrew Lelling. He wrote to them that their request for information detailing how Singer represented himself to clients was a “fishing expedition” for evidence that was immaterial.

“To the extent that Singer made representations to actual or potential clients who are not defendants in this case, such representations are, on their face, irrelevant,” Lelling wrote in an Oct. 31 letter.

More: USC tagged applicants from big-donor and connected families as ‘VIPs’ emails show

Loughlin and Giannulli’s attorney argue the government’s “fundamental misunderstanding of its obligations” to turn over all evidence raises concerns about their ability to do so and suggests there could be other relevant information they’re withholding. 

“The Government’s failures directly threaten Giannulli and Loughlin’s constitutional rights to a fair trial and due process of law,” the attorneys say in the motion. 

Fifty-three people, including 36 parents as well as college coaches, have been charged in the college admissions case. Thirty have either pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty later while the remaining 23 prepare for trial. 

More: New ‘Varsity Blues’ charges: Georgetown mom pleads guilty to cheating in son’s online classes

Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lori Loughlin lawyer: Feds hiding evidence in college admissions case



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Why Rihanna and Ex-Boyfriend Her Hassan Jameel Broke Up

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ALLEN BEREZOVSKYGetty Images

  • Rihanna and her ex, Hassan Jameel, called their relationship quits last week.
  • The reason? Well, their lives were drifting apart.

    It’s been quite a time for fans of Rihanna. Today officially marks the 1,457th day (aka almost four (4) calendar years) since Anti was released, and Rihanna has given us everything but a damn album. Rih gave us a makeup line, a clothing line, a damn book, for crying out loud…and now she—well, a source, rather—is now giving us the reason why she decided to break up with her billionaire ex-boyfriend, Hassan Jameel. Let’s be real—we were all waiting on that information to drop too.

    According to a People source, things between Rihanna and Hassan didn’t work out for an extremely simple reason: their lives were going in different directions, it seems. “Their lives were too different and it was hard to maintain a relationship,” People‘s source revealed, which fair. Rihanna is a fashion icon, beauty entrepreneur and clothing designer, while Hassan is businessman with distribution rights to Toyota. Both parties are incredibly wealthy, but their career paths don’t really have much overlap.

    One of the last times that Rih talked about Hassan in detail (mind you, this means very minimal detail since they were notoriously private with their relationship), she said “of course” she was in love (with him), but was unsure of if she considered getting married or having children with him anytime soon. “Only God knows that, girl. We plan and God laughs, right?” she told Interview Magazine back in June.

    Now, Rih is hanging out again with her old, very male pals, A$AP Rocky and Drake. People are already hoping that she gets together with one of them, but please don’t hold your breath—in the great words of Rih, she’s probably “not looking for a man.”





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Juana Martín celebrates the courtyards of Córdoba and her gitano roots

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On a morning when the temperatures of the Parisian winter plunged below zero, designer Juana Martín filled the fourth day of the French capital’s Haute Couture Week with spring. Every May, the Courtyards Festival takes place in Córdoba, where the facades of the city’s historic Moorish-inspired buildings participate in a beauty contest with colourful flowers planted in beds and pots hung from the walls. It was this festivity that inspired Martín’s collection, “Les cours de ma maison,” with which the Andalusian designer aimed to pay homage to her roots and her hometown. 

Juana Martín’s show included hats by Seville’s Tolentino – Juana Martín

Echoing with a soundtrack of flamenco songs and quejíos, the Spanish Embassy in Paris hosted a contemporary Andalusian fashion show, dominated by the classic layering of generous frills, seen on sleeves, wide skirts and even shoulder pads. These volumes were also worked into dramatic necklines and puff sleeves, sharing the catwalk with more contemporary looks that reinterpreted tradition with wide palazzo pants, skirts layered over lace and even two-piece suits, for young flamenco dancers with a more masculine spirit.

The Courtyard Festival’s emblematic flowers and plants were represented in prints and appliqués embroidered by Manuela Romero, whose intensely green ivy seemed to be taking over one loose white outfit. Flowers could also be seen in dazzling lace looks, fitted black transparent ensembles and reinterpretations of classic Manila shawls. Polka dots, so prominent in Andalusian culture, appeared on black and white pieces, such as a clear mini-dress worn by cordobesa model Águeda López,while other silhouettes were dominated by relaxed pastel shades.

Spanish actress Rossy de Palma closed the show with a dance – Juana Martín

Accessories, especially those worn on the models’ heads, played a starring role, ranging from bride-worthy veils with trains to lace hoods and spectacular floral headdresses by Seville’s Tolentino. The icing on the cake was provided by Almodóvar muse Rossy de Palma, who was tasked with closing the show, sheathed in a sparkling black dress. The actress, who only hours before had walked at Jean Paul Gaultier’s last Haute Couture show, was accompanied by Rosalía’s “Di mi nombre” as she danced the flamenco.

“I’m the only gitana in the world of fashion,” stated Martín, who was visibly emotional after the show. Since her debut at Madrid Fashion Week in 2005, the designer has shown at specialised events, such as Simof – Seville’s international trade fair for flamenco fashion – and Valmont Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week. Now, however, Paris is the brand’s priority. “It took us a few years to get here, and this is the fifth show that we’ve done in France. For us, it’s our big commitment,” said Martín.

When asked, in light of this commitment, why she is still based in Madrid, the designer answered, “I somehow felt that that I had to be there,” and recalled her first runway show in Paris, to which she travelled in a van stuffed full of her looks. “I felt that, in some way, I was hiding my culture and my roots. ‘No,’ I said to myself. It’s what I know how to do and what I like doing,” she continued, going on to explain that abroad “not only is the concept valued, it’s also understood.” Ultimately, she sees the flamenco of Camarón de la Isla that so inspired her designs as, above all, a universal language. The designer has no doubts about her objectives: “I want to be Juana, creating my flamenco, my world, my values and my traditions.” And that’s exactly what her shows do. 
 

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Kaia Gerber’s Blazer and Hoodie Street Style at Couture Week

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Kaia Gerber is leading us all in one of our favorite styling hacks for Winter: the oversize-blazer-and-hoodie combo. It’s something we do often to polish off our loungewear, and it’s such a simple trick that it almost feels funny writing about it. But for Kaia, the sweatshirt and blazer was clearly a no-brainer for her trip to Paris for Spring/Summer 2020 Haute Couture Week. The supermodel walked in numerous shows, including Givenchy (where she was an outstanding hooded bride), Valentino, and Chanel.

Kaia’s usually very “no fuss and no frills” when it comes to her outfit choices in between jobs. Meanwhile, plenty of other supermodels rock costume-like, gifted pieces straight off the runway on their way to the next hair and makeup session. We admire Kaia’s cool confidence, though — after all, her athleisure ensemble is making it to the top of our best dressed list for the week.

Kaia capped off her gray, satin-lined blazer and collegiate hoodie with straight-leg jeans that revealed her ’90s mom New Balance sneakers. Does it get better than that? Read on to feel even more inspired by Kaia, zoom in on the details, then shop some pairings that will help you achieve this foolproof look that goes for miles when you’re in need of a little extra layering.

Shop clockwise from top left: Day U.S.A. Hoodie Sweatshirt ($50, originally $99), H&M Mom High Ankle Jeans ($30), Mango Check Suit Blazer ($150), Topshop Halo Black Chain Hobo Bag ($55), New Balance 990 V5 ($75, originally $175)





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